Monday, November 2, 2009

History Engine.

I don't know how I feel. On one hand, I see the tremendous potential of the History Engine as a tool for driving pedagogy. On the other hand, it smacks of gimmickry. I don't mean that it is a gimmick, or that it should be taken as such, but it has that feel.

I know that sounds controversial, but it seems that they are touting this as something that people will be able to utilize as a secondary source for later research, but are not doing much to expose this to the outside world. A Google search brings up History Engine readily, but the landing page is not very inviting. It is obviously more focused on content creation than it is on content utilization. Students, I fear, might look at these articles and simply ascribe them to the dark hallways of some forgotten years at University. This would break the illusion that the work being created would be meaningful in the future.

On the other hand, if the grand plan of History Engine is to develop enough meaningful content to begin featuring it and putting the content at the center of the experiment, that's another story. I can easily understand how they would want to focus primarily on content creation until there is some solid content to brag about.

When one views the current landing page, you are presented quickly with the idea that this is for educational purposes of content creation. While this is good, I think if there is too much content with not an obvious effort to put that content into a more main-stream venue, students may disbelieve the idea that they are able to push the field of History further.

As it stands, I look forward to contributing to this experiment. I hope that it does open up a little bit more and begins to push content. I also think many of my students in high school could create meaningful content, especially if it were obvious that some of the best written articles were prominently displayed or featured.

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